Gay Marriage Passed in Illinois

Gay Marriage Passed in Illinois November 6, 2013

The following post is written by Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation

I’ve lived in Illinois my whole life (well, except for the past two and a half months while in St. Andrews). Illinois is where every word of Love Is an Orientation was lived in real-time. And last night, after a few failed attempts over the past year to secure enough votes in the Illinois House of Representatives for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (as it passed the Senate each time), gay marriage passed the House, and will be on Governor Quinn’s desk to sign asap. From all reports, the first ceremonies will be held in June 2014. I would like to offer a few reflections.

First, for all of those LGBT couples that, for all intents and purposes, have been married for years, if not decades, I want to congratulate each of you for your now legal right to receive both the State and Federal benefits you deserve as citizens of the United States of America.

Second, for all of those LGBTs who are not yet married, I plead with you that you treat the (wait for it, our favorite phrase…) institution of marriage with more care and reverence than your heterosexual counterparts have done. In my mind, if there is one way to “legitimize” your marriages in the eyes of more conservative religious folks, it is that monogamy and fidelity in marriage for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health, are actually meant and are statistically proven. We all know the general population (and Christian!) divorce rates are staggering. I pray you lessen that abominable statistic.

Third, we must all remember that just because marriage equality was passed in Illinois, it was not passed unanimously! In yesterday’s vote, it passed the Senate 32-21 (with six non-votes); and it passed the House 61-54 (with three non-votes). These numbers are not what I would call a landslide by any stretch of the imagination. Illinois’ Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passed the Senate by a total of 54% majority. The House by a total of 52% majority. The reality is there are a lot of people, organizations, institutions, and politicians who do not agree with gay marriage. As I articulated more thoroughly herehere, and here, just because something legally changes does not necessarily mean the “opponent’s” (whomever that might be for whatever given situation) worldview of normalcy changes. The reality is, as we all knew from long ago and yet seem to have forgotten, life isn’t as easy and simple as winner or loser.

Therefore I pray for two things in particular for my State today:

That we all will focus on love as God’s overarching principle, exemplified through the life, teachings, and actions of Jesus Christ, in which we engage, whether in-person or online, our opponent who is either celebrating or fuming on this day, a day that shifts the course of our State’s trajectory.

And that LGBTs, their advocates, and our State’s everyday conservative churches would all commit to working together to ensure that the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act would be implemented to its rule–such that there will always be religious freedom just as there is freedom for LGBT people to rightly marry.

Much love.

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12 responses to “Gay Marriage Passed in Illinois”

  1. Thank you for this, Andrew.
    I do wish we all could stop calling it “gay marriage.” What Illinois passed was Marriage Fairness…or marriage equality. It not some special right, it’s equality.

    • Bill – I appreciate your suggestion, and that is why in the post I overwhelmingly referenced it by its name: Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act; as well as “equality.” I understand that from an integration standpoint, as you pointed out, it is not a “special right,” as the label of “gay marriage” would suggest.

      Logically though, what I find problematic with just calling it marriage equality is: To whom is this equality given? It could be given to anyone, any population, anything? If “gay” or “LGBT” is not at least mentioned at some point, there is no qualifier to who the equality is being bestowed. And a response of “well everyone knows it’s for LGBT people” is taking for granted a lot of assumptions, which I do not want to do–especially in light of how many false assumptions historically have been placed upon the LGBT community.

  2. A more accurate description would be that they changed the legal definition of marriage to adhere to gender-neutrality.

    • I am perplexed by the entrance of the term “gender-neutrality” into this discussion. Gender is still alive and kicking. The legal definition of marriage is simple….it is a civil contract affording a status to two individuals with various rights and responsibilities appertaining thereto. The Illinois legislature has absolutely nothing to say about the religious definition of marriage. Separation of church and state dictates they cannot.

      Therefore, the only change the Illinois legislature (and the legislatures, voters and/or judiciary branches of 14 other states, so far) made was that they opened a civil contract to any two consenting adult individuals who wish to enter into it.

      Your particular religious definition of marriage remains quite in-tact.

      • Gender-neutral: Describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender.

        So before the definition of marriage referenced gender. Now it doesn’t. So the definition has changed to adhere to gender neutrality. Was that so hard?

        • Steve, I think what Michael is getting at is that the term “gender-neutral” often has another connotation where the distinction between genders is ignored in favor of a kind of genderless-ness, if that makes sense. It seems gay marriage, or marriage equality, does not really dive into this territory.

          • That is precisely the territory it dove into. Look at Michael’s new definition: “A civil contract affording a status to two individuals with various rights and responsibilities appertaining thereto.”


              • The new definition of marriage does not recognize those genders. The people being joined in marriage are, as far as the law is concerned, simply “individuals”.

                I don’t know what you guys are disagreeing with here. The most accurate description of what happened in Illinois is that the legal definition of “marriage” changed to be gender-neutral.

              • We all have gender. Are you suggesting heterosexuals lacked gender before they married in the past.

                I think it’s the silliest assertion that people make, that any marriage lacks gender. They all possess people of gender. I have a gender. My husband has a gender.

                Maybe you’re talking about “gender roles,” but that’s rarely been consistent from heterosexual couple to couple in my lifetime.

              • *rubs temples*

                We will walk through this slowly. Beforehand, the law would say that “marriage” is a union between male and female. That definition makes reference to gender.

                Now, the law says “individuals” or “persons” are joined together. The law no longer makes any reference to gender in its definition of marriage. The law is gender-neutral.

                The people involved in the marriage have gender, but the newly redefined definition of marriage applies to people irrespective of their gender. Please slow down and think.

              • Ok, Steve. Got it. People may marry regardless of the genders of the individuals involved. So, you win. It’s gender neutral. And society wins. There is now equality. See? We all win and we’re all pretty! The end. See how easy that was?